People from all over Ireland came together yesterday to pay their final respects to Father Gerry Reynolds, a priest hailed for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process.
Mourners at his Requiem Mass heard that he was a "visionary" who extended his hand in friendship and kindness to fellow Christians and all those of faith.
The 80-year-old Redemptorist cleric, who ministered at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast for over 30 years, died in hospital last Friday after a short illness.
He and the late Fr Alec Reid initiated secret discussions held at Clonard between Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume which provided an impetus for the start of the peace process in the early 1990s.
In his homily, Clonard rector Father Noel Kehoe described his friend and colleague as a man who was fanatical about hurling, rugby, poetry and going for long walks.
He said that among his fellow Redemptorists he was known as a fellow "with both feet firmly planted in mid air". He told a packed congregation: "Gerry Reynolds (below) was a dreamer. He was an idealist, a visionary.
"Gerry's big dream was the ecumenical one. He doggedly refused to allow setbacks or conventional wisdom to distract him from the path to peace and unity.
"It empowered him to cross barriers, to do things that others would not dare to do."
He said that his Redemptorist brothers could testify that Gerry missed no opportunity to talk about his dream for unity.
"Some secretly believed that he was a Protestant," he joked.
He said Rev Ken Newell had recently remarked that no other Catholic priest in Ireland had been in so many Protestant churches.
Originally from Co Limerick, Fr Reynolds reached out to the Travelling community and other religions.
A few days before he died he travelled to Dublin for a book launch after writing a chapter on ecumenicalism.